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Family files claim against Upland school district, alleging Black kids were targeted with racist abuse


A family has filed a lawsuit against Upland Unified School District alleging their three children were the target of racial slurs and abuse by other elementary school students.

The claim comes a week after a series of racist incidents at Pepper Tree Elementary School sparked outrage from parents.

In the preliminary to a lawsuit filed Monday, Rome and Maylana Douglas allege their three children, who attend elementary school, have suffered “physical and irreparable emotional injuries” despite administrators and officials being notified that the children were bullied.

The 12 year old boys from the Douglas started attending Pepper Tree in August 2016 and their 9 year old daughter started in August 2019.

Upland Unified School District officials declined to comment Tuesday, but rather condemned the allegations in a youtube video.

Upland School Board President Sherman Garnett acknowledged in the video that “racially insensitive, unacceptable incidents” had taken place.

“We deeply regret the pain this behavior has caused our students, families and our community,” he said. “I want to make it absolutely clear that we have a strict zero-tolerance policy towards any form of hate speech, harassment, discriminatory practices, conduct, racist slurs and all reports of these actions will be thoroughly and promptly investigated.”

The Upland Unified School District “will take disciplinary action in these situations without hesitation,” Garnett said, though he did not elaborate.

According to the claim, one of the children was subjected to “unequal treatment” during physical education classes, including not being allowed to participate and “being forced to lean against a chain link fence,” according to the claim. The parents claim that accommodation was also provided for white children and not for the Douglas children based on race.

One of the Douglas children was accused of “bringing a gun to school to attack teachers,” but he had actually brought his collection of agate stones, the parents claimed.

During the pandemic, the children were allegedly subjected to “electronic racist attacks through the school’s curriculum.” The children were given links that, when clicked, would open images of the N word and monkeys.

The Douglas children were also called “monkeys” and “monkeys” by other students, according to their parents, and subjected to “monkey calls”. They were asked to sign “Golden N-Word” cards because carrying them meant they would receive “better treatment” than other black children.

One of the sons was also “depicted as an effigy being hung from a tree”.

The Douglases claim they reported the racist abuse to school officials, who promised to provide diversity training to staff and teachers, but nothing was done.

Their children, the Douglases say, suffered from emotional and mental problems, the “loss of ability to concentrate in school” and civil rights violations. They are seeking damages in excess of $10,000.

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